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Jaxon Traveler Tops $75,000 Spectacular Bid Nominations
Among Six Stakes Worth $550,000 on Jan. 16 Winter Carnival
Live Racing Returns Friday, Jan. 8 with Nine-Race Program
LAUREL, MD – West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s stakes winner Jaxon Traveler, undefeated in three starts at 2, and Grade 2 winner Brooklyn Strong top 24 nominees to the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Saturday, Jan. 16 at Laurel Park.
The inaugural Spectacular Bid for 3-year-olds and return of the $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies, both sprinting seven furlongs, are among six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on a Winter Carnival program that kicks off the 2021 Maryland stakes calendar.
Jaxon Traveler, a Maryland-bred son of multiple graded-stakes winning sprinter Munnings, debuted last September at Pimlico Race Course and put together back-to-back wins over Laurel’s main track in October and December, the latter in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity.
Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong went three-for-four as a juvenile, capturing the Sleepy Hollow against fellow New York-breds and 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) Dec. 5 at Aqueduct in his most recent start, giving trainer Daniel Velazquez his first career graded-stakes triumph.
Louis Ulman and Neil Glasser’s Kenny Had a Notion won stakes on turf and dirt last year, capping his juvenile campaign running second by a neck in the Heft Stakes Dec. 26 at Laurel. Hello Hot Rod, trained and co-owned by Brittany Russell, extended his win streak to two races with a 2 ¼-length optional claiming allowance victory Dec. 12 over fellow nominee Shackqueenking, who came back to win the Howard County Stakes going about 1 1/16 miles Dec. 26.
Also among the nominees are Ellis Park Juvenile winner Pico d’Oro; Ain’t Da Beer Cold, second by a nose to Shackqueenking in the Howard County; First State Dash runner-up Maythehorsebwithu; and Lugamo, third in the James F. Lewis III Nov. 14 at Laurel.
The Xtra Heat, last run at Pimlico in 2007, also attracted 24 nominations led by Lucky 7 Stables’ Street Lute. Trained by Jerry Robb, the Street Magician filly was a neck shy of being undefeated in six starts at 2 with four of her five wins coming in stakes, including her last three at Laurel – the Dec. 26 Gin Talking, Dec. 5 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and Nov. 14 Smart Halo.
Also nominated are Gin Talking runner-up Fraudulent Charge; stablemates Lambeau Lady and Little Huntress, each coming off impressive Laurel maiden wins, and multiple stakes-placed Out of Sorts for trainer Brittany Russell; Miss Leslie and Buckey’s Charm, separated by a head when 1-2, respectively, in the Ann Arundel County Dec. 26 at Laurel; and Shamrock Rose winner Plane Drunk.
Older horses will sprint six furlongs in the $100,000 What a Summer for females and $100,000 Fire Plug. The 21 What a Summer nominees include Hello Beautiful, exiting successive stakes wins in the Maryland Million Distaff and Safely Kept; fellow multiple stakes winners Needs Supervision, fifth last out in the Allaire du Pont (G3) Dec. 26, Never Enough Time and New York Groove; 2019 Gin Talking winner Bella Aurora Hibiscus Punch and Malibu Mischief, respectively second and third in the Dec. 26 Willa On the Move; and Dec. 5 Go for Wand (G3) runner-up Portal Creek.
The Fire Plug drew 20 nominees including Whereshetoldmetogo, winner of the Frank Y. Whiteley and Dave’s Friend in his last two starts; Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) winner Laki; Fall Highweight (G3) winner Share the Ride; Maryland Million Sprint winner Karan’s Notion; Grade 3-placed Arch Cat, fourth by 1 ½ lengths in last year’s Fire Plug; and stakes winners Arthur’s Hope, Celtic Chaos, Lebda, Penguin Power, Taco Supream and Wendell Fong.
Maryland-bred/sired horses will be in the spotlight in the $75,000 Jennings for 4-year-olds and up and $75,000 Geisha for fillies and mares 4 and older, both going one mile. Whereshetoldmetogo is also among 21 nominees to the Jennings along with historic Pimlico Special (G3) winner Harpers First Ride and fellow multiple stakes winners Alwaysmining and Cordmaker; 2020 Concern winner Air Token and Laddie Liam, unraced since winning the 2019 Maryland Juvenile Futurity.
Hello Beautiful is prominent among nominees to the Geisha, along with stakes winners Artful Splatter and Naughty Thoughts and Coconut Cake, a winner of four of six starts as a 3-year-old in 2020.
Live Racing Returns Friday, Jan. 8 with Nine-Race Program
Five horses coming off maiden wins are among a field of eight fillies making their sophomore debut to highlight the return of live racing to Laurel Park Friday, Jan. 8.
Post time for the first of nine races is 12:25 p.m.
Best A Luck Farm, Cal Lin Racing and Alexander Levengood’s Journeytothemoon is a narrow 5-2 program favorite in Friday’s Race 8, a $42,000 optional claiming allowance going around two turns at about 1 1/16 miles. Journeytothemoon was a winner of her lone start Nov. 21 at Laurel, a three-quarter-length maiden special weight triumph sprinting six furlongs.
Trainer Mike Trombetta will also send out Jet Black’s Guns Blazing, a one-mile maiden special weight winner Nov. 5 who ran fifth in the Anne Arundel County for 2-year-old fillies Dec. 26. The daughter of Firing Line is one of three horses in for a $62,500 tag.
Claudio Gonzalez, who recently claimed his fourth consecutive overall training title in Maryland, also entered two horses – Marcial Cornejo’s Wonderwall, racing first time off the claim following a maiden triumph Dec. 19 at Laurel, and Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc.’s Tuff But Fair, who beat Wonderwall in a one-mile maiden claimer Oct. 23.
Love in Her Eyes, Marvella Nasty and Champagne Toast are all exiting maiden wins, the latter two at Laurel.
Race 6 is an entry-level allowance for 4-year-olds and up sprinting six furlongs led by No Guts No Glory Farm and Gene Gould Jr.’s In the Loop, favored at 7-5 on the morning line. The 5-year-old Super Saver gelding owns four wins and four seconds in 12 lifetime starts, beaten by Maryland Million Sprint winner Karan’s Notion Nov. 19 and by a head as the favorite Dec. 20 in his most recent action.
Races 8 and 9, a seven-furlong claimer for 4-year-olds and up, kick off Friday’s weekly national Stronach 5 wager that continues with Race 3 at Santa Anita and Races 9 and 10 from Gulfstream Park.